Saturday, December 31, 2011

Filo Rolls of Winter Greens

Filo dough tends to make me crazy; it's a bit tedious to work with but once in a while I'll break it out for special occassions. People's Co-op carries an organic filo, which is nice because I don't have the talent to make such thin sheets of dough from scratch.

1 cup or so of extra virgin olive oil
1-3 fennel bulbs - Suzie's has them but they are small (leaves and stalks removed), diced
3 medium leeks, julienned
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 medium bunch kale, sliced
1 medium bunch mustard greens, sliced
1 medium bunch chard, sliced
1 tsp fennel seed, toasted, freshly ground
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ package filo dough

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add fennel and fennel seed; cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add green onion/leeks and garlic; cook for 2 more minutes. Add greens; cook until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in mint and pine nuts.

Lay 1 sheet of filo dough on flat work surface. Brush half with oil (the long half), fold in half (the long way) and brush top with oil. Place ¼ cup of green filling at one end of phyllo and roll up into a cigar shape. Place roll on parchement-lined baking sheet. Repeat ad nauseum (just kidding).

Brush rolls with oil. Bake at 375º until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Oh-so-pretty.

Stuffed Mushrooms

A bit old-school but so delicious...

1 pound whole mushrooms (prefer cremini but white also work), destemmed (save stems form your stock)
1 tablespoon olive oil + more for drizzling
1 tablespoon butter (or more olive oil)
3 shallots, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
sea salt
fresh thyme, destemmed, minced
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, destemmed, chopped
Parmesano reggiano, optional

In a large bowl, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over mushroom caps; toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet (hole side up). In a large skillet, melt butter and/or oil over medium-high heat and cook shallots until soft. Add garlic, thyme and a few pinches of salt and cook, stirring constantly until just soft. Remove from heat. Toss in remaining ingredients (except parm) until combined, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Stuff mushroom caps with mixture. Grate parm on top if desired. Bake at 350º for about 15-20 minutes, until caps look well-cooked. Let cool slightly before serving so folks don't burn their mouths.

Smashed Cannelini Bean Spread

4 cloves garlic from the Schaners, peeled, pressed
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves from Suzie's or the Schaners, minced
sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup cooked cannellini beans (Suzie's Farm recently had them fresh in the pod!), saving the cooking liquid
juice of a lemon from the Schaners or your tree

Over medium heat, sweat the garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil with the sage and a few pinches of sea salt until tender. In a food processor, add the beans, another tablespoon of oil, lemon juice, 1/4 - 1/3 cup bean broth, red pepper flakes to taste and the garlic mixture.  Blend until smooth, salt to taste, maybe add more bean broth if it's too thick.

Makes about 1&1/2 cups.

Top with a drizzle of your favorite olive oil, fresh chopped parsley, caramelized onions, and/or some nice olives.  Serve with toasted ciabatta.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Build Your Own Cheese Platter

Easy, fast, delicious and beautiful! Choose your favorite combinations from any of the following catagories:

Go with what you love, or ask your local cheese monger (Mary from Taste) to help you with your selections (which is always fun and you get to taste a bunch of lovely cheese). I like to choose 3 that go together somehow (maybe all from the same region) or I choose 3 that are completely different. My favorite is to have one soft, one hard, and one blue.

Breads & Crackers
Bake your own or buy local. Choose an assortment or just one type. I almost always choose a fresh crusty baguette to slice up, maybe a seeded baguette to pair with a mild cheese. 

Fresh, dried, jammed or compoted, pick fruit that pairs well.  I tend toward fresh, so right now that's dates, apples and persimmons.  I would avoid citrus, but maybe that's just me.

My favorites are walnuts from Terra Bella Farm or almonds from Smit Orchards.

If you like, drizzle over cheeses, nuts, or fruit. Or put it in a little bowl for dipping. I love local honey and there is a lot to choose from.  Right now, I'm loving the buckwheat honey in People's Co-op bulk section.

Roasted Garlic
Lovely to include if it goes with the cheeses.  Lately, I get my garlic from Schaner Farm.  I especially love roasted garlic with soft cheese such as brie or Nicolau goat cheese (a recent favorite).

A Few Examples
  • triple cream brie & cranberry compote wrapped and baked in a pie crust
  • goat chevre rolled in chopped parsley and chives with roasted garlic
  • english stilton, cotswold & derby cheeses, with toasted walnuts, fresh figs (quartered) and local wildflower honey
  • saint-andré, winchester gouda & point reyes blue cheeses with pear, raspberries, cashews and local orange blossom honey
Arrange your selections on a pretty platter or a wood or stone serving board. I start with the cheeses arranged toward the middle, I slice thin and fan out hard fruit or pile berries in between the cheese, place the nuts so they might cascade down the cheese or fruit, then lightly drizzle honey over a bit of the fruit and nuts. Finally, I fan out sliced baguette or crackers in a circle around or alternatively, serve in a basket lined with a cloth napkin. Don’t forget to include a cheese knife, preferably one for each cheese.

Artichoke Boursin Dip

This a take on a traditional boursin spread that my friend, Rae, would bring to parties when we lived in Pennsylvania. Rich and creamy, the red pepper kick helps slow down how fast this dip disappears.  Miss you, Rae!

4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, destemmed
a pinch of crushed red pepper
8 ounces neufchatel cheese, room temp
1½ tablespoons butter, room temp
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
about 2 cups cooked or canned artichoke hearts, drained, more or less to taste
1 cup shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons chives, finely snipped

Buzz garlic, thyme, and red pepper in food processor until fine. Add neufchatel, butter, salt and pepper and buzz until smooth. Scrape into a bowl.

Briefly buzz artichokes in food processor until chopped (this also helps clean the food processor). Stir to combine artichokes, parm, and chives into the creamy goodness. Let refrigerate for a thick consistency.

Serve with crackers, bread, blue corn chips or crudité

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Years Eve Party Foods

This is the first year in quite a while that I will not be cooking for a New Year's party.  My spouse and I usually head up to the Bay Area to hang out with my spouse's family.  And for New Year's we come up with a menu of small plates or finger foods, usually around some theme or another.  But here's some party food menu ideas...

Easy Nibbles
cheese plate with seasonal fruit & nuts
bowl of lovely olives
homemade pickled vegetables

Dips & Spreads
artichoke boursin dip & pita crisps
crudités & hummus
blue corn chips with assorted salsas & guacamole
smashed cannellini bean spread with caramelized onions & toasted sliced ciabatta

Finger Foods
stuffed mushrooms
soup shots
filo rolls of winter greens

Something Sweet
open-faced cookie sandwiches of ginger molasses crisps with vanilla bean neufchatel frosting & persimmon slices
mini hippie bars
mini mexican mocha brownies

Monday, December 26, 2011

Not my Grandmother's Trifle

My take on trifle this winter is not so traditional but it was delicious.  I spooned persimmon pudding into the bottom, added a few chunks of ginger spice cake, topped with a few spoonfuls of honey vanilla apple compote, then whipped up some Strauss heavy cream sweetened with maple syrup, and topped with a few pieces of toasted pecans.  It was well received and can be made well in advance of serving.  The cake and compote can be made a few days ahead of time, the pudding, whip cream and assembly up to 24 hours before serving.  You can assemble it in a large container for multiple servings, but a big spoonful of glop isn't very pretty on the plate, so I choose to layer mine in small clear glass cups or jars for individual servings.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winter Fruit Salad

I'll be having brunch tomorrow with my mom, siblings, and extended family.  After wishing a happy holidays to my farmers today, here's what I'll bring to share:

a few tangerines from the Schaners, peeled and segments pulled apart
a few fuyu persimmons from Heritage Farm, cut in half and sliced thin
a fuji apple, a pink lady apple, a century apple pear, all from Smit Orchards, all cored and sliced thin
1/2 pound of medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
seeds of a pomegranate from the Schaners (here's a kitchen tip on removing the seeds)
local honey, optional

Toss the fruit pieces together and serve drizzled lightly with local honey.

Persimmon Pudding

A highly experimental recipe but it worked!  This was part of my take on trifle for my winter solstice menu, which turned out beautifully (I need to get better about taking pictures). You generally find 2 varieties of persimmon at the markets: fuyu (short, squatty shape) and hachiya (more oblong, teardropish shape). 
The fuyu you can eat firm and are a bit sweeter when they are just a bit soft).  I do not recommend eating hachiya unless it is very, very ripe, super soft, and jelly-like, almost translucent.  If it's not, the hachiya is very astringent, which I find extremely unpleasant (but if you don't know what I'm talking about you may want to try it just for the experience). 

3 hachiya persimmons
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups half & half (or milk and cream)
1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar

Scrape the soft flesh out of the persimmons and puree until smooth, yielding about 1 1/2 cups, and set aside.

In a sauce pan, heat milk/cream/half & half and sugar on low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and milk is steaming (do not boil).

While the milk is heating, in a separate boil, briefly beat the egg yolks with a whisk.  After the milk is steaming, very slowly whisk half of the milk into the yolks, then whisk the mixture all together in the saucepan.  Add the persimmon puree and cook, stirring occasionally for another 10 minutes to thicken.  If you like a very smooth texture, pour through a fine strainer.

Serve warm or cool with ginger spice cake, maybe with some whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup and toasted pecans.

Add 1/2 a vanilla bean to the milk or cream while heating, then remove pod and scrape seeds into the milk.
Add a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg with the persimmon.
Use honey or maple syrup instead of sugar.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Honey Vanilla Apple Compote

I was planning a pear compote but none were to be had at the farmers market, but that's why seasonal cooking is so fun; it's like your own personal iron chef ("and the secret ingredient is...")

4 apples (a variety that bakes well, such as granny smith), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4" thick
juice of 1/2 meyer lemon from the Schaners
1 tablespoon Spring Hill butter
1/2 vanilla bean, cut length-wise in half
1/2-2/3 cup local honey

In a bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and set aside.  In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat.  Scape the vanilla seeds into the butter and add the pod, too.  Add the lemoned apples and stir to coat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples have softened but still keep their shape, about 10 minutes.  Add the honey and cook a few more minutes.  Remove the vanilla bean (give it a gentle rinse, allow it to dry, and add to your vanilla). Voila!

Serve warm over ginger spice cake with whipped cream or creme fraiche.  Have any left over?  Save it for the morning and stir it into oatmeal.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Seasonal Fruit Crisp

One of my very favorite desserts.  Easy enough for any day, delicious enough for fancy events.  Or maybe even a special breakfast.

Crisp Topping
6 tablespoons butter or nut oil (or a mix of the 2)
¾ cup rapadura sugar
2/3 cup flour
½ cup rolled oats and/or chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans...)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Fruit Filling
5 cups of seasonal fruit (today I'm using granny smith apples from Smit Orchards, halved, cored, and sliced)
½ tablespoon rapadura or evaporated cane sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, lemon zest, other other citrus or spices of your choice

Mix crisp topping ingredients together until crumbly and set aside.  Cut fruit (if needed) about ¼ inch thick.  Toss with sugar and spices of your choice.  Arrange in a buttered or oiled loaf pan and cover with topping.  Bake at 375º until golden and bubbly about 60 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream! Can be baked in small ramekins for individual servings.

Awesome with stone fruit, berries, rhubarb...
Toss fruit with a squeeze of lemon or a splash of juice

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tomato Soup

Based on a recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (which is like my bible)...

2 tablespoons Spring Hill butter or olive oil
3/4 cup onion from Schaner Farm, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, celery, or fennel chopped
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
pinch of ground clove
a 28 ounce glass jar of tomatoes (strained, crushed, diced, whole or stew your own!)
3 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of milk of your choice, optional (cream, goat, soy, nut...)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and saute onion, celery, basil and clove until the vegetables are soft and start to brown.  Add the tomato and stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes with lid askew.  Puree until smooth, stir in milk and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches, or garnish with your favorite crackers and/or grated cheese (mozzarella, jack, smoked cheddar from Spring Hill...)

4-6 servings (yields 7 cups of soup)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sugarsnap Pea Soup

This was a what-do-I-have-to-make-soup-right-now recipe and it turned out awesome...

1&1/2 tablespoons Spring Hill butter or oil
1/4 of an onion from Schaner Farm
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon rosemary from Suzie's (dried up from Thanksgiving)
1 potato from Sage Mountain Farm, quartered and sliced thin
1/2 cup white wine leftover from Thanksgiving
5 cups fresh sugarsnap peas from Suzie's, tough ends removed, chopped
sea salt
4 cups vegetable stock
freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter on medium high heat and saute 1 cup of chopped pea pods, just for just a couple minutes and set aside.  Melt the rest of the butter in the pot and saute the onion and herbs until soft.  Add the potatoes and wine, bring to a boil and simmer until most of the liquid have evaporated.  Add 4 cups of peas, hot stock and a bit of sea salt, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.  Puree until smooth, season to taste, add that 1st cup of sauteed peas and garnish with buttered croutons.

Serves 4

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tuscan Winter Vegetable Soup

This recipe is based on my take on minestrone, winterized (by what is available at the farmers market in general and Suzie's farm stand particularly) for these chilly days. Leave the skin on if you use kabocha or delicata squash. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
½ cup diced fennel
½ cup diced carrot, beet, or turnip
1 cup winter squash, chopped into ½" cubes
¾ cup (cooked, canned or fresh) cannellini beans
¾ cup any type of bush beans with an edible pod (green bean, yellow wax, dragon's tongue...), remove tough end, chopped on a diagonal in 1" pieces
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup kale, dandelion or mustard greens, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
red pepper flakes

Sauté the onion, fennel, garlic, herbs and in oil in a large pot on medium heat until they start to soften. Add carrots, squash and bit of salt and cook until they start to soften. Add beans, greens, and stock, bring to a boil, and simmer with lid askew until the squash is soft, about 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Garnish with fresh parsley and/or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Yorkshire Pudding

This is an English classic also known as popovers and usually cooked around a roast or in beef fat.  But after I became a vegetarian at 12 years old, my English grandmother, while she was concerned I wouldn't get enough protein, would always cook a few in muffin tins in oil for me.

3 tablespoon butter or oil
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon flour
½ tsp sea salt

Cut each tablespoon of butter into 4 equal pieces. Place each piece of butter in the 12 cups of a muffin tin. Place the muffin tin in a 450º preheating oven to melt butter (do not brown or burn!).

Whisk together eggs and milk. Whisk in flour and salt until well combined. Pour batter evenly into the hot muffin tin, each cup about half full.

Bake for 15 minutes (10 with convection). Lower heat to 350º and bake another 5-10 minutes until golden brown.

Makes 12 popovers

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ginger Spice Cake

This wonderfully moist cake happens to be low-fat.  Applesauce makes a great fat replacer in many cakes or quick breads (such as carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin cake). Try making your own applesauce; I see local apple trees ripe for harvest.

1 cup applesauce
½ cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs from your backyard or favorite farmer
2/3 cup rapadura sugar
1/3 cup oil
1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Mix together applesauce, molasses and baking powder. Add eggs and sugar and beat 3-4 minutes. Gradually beat in oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix just until combined.

Bake in greased and floured 9x9 pan at 325º for 40-45 minutes until it starts to pull away from the sides and a knife comes out clean. Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm with fresh seasonal fruit (I like persimmons or blackberries) or cranberry compote and whipped creme fraiche sweetened to taste with maple syrup.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Honey-Glazed Carrots with Thyme

I saw some beautiful carrots this week from Suzie's Farm and J.R. Organics Farm.  In general, the orange ones are a bit sweeter but the purple and red ones are just so beautiful.  I love purple vegetables but the color usually fades when cooking or pickling.  And the honey-glaze will make the orange color a little more brilliant (plus they taste really good!).

1½ pounds carrots, scrubbed well
1 tablespoon Spring Hill butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, destemmed, minced from Suzie's or the Schaners
2 tablespoons local honey (try a citrus variety)
sea salt from Salt Farm

Remove carrot tops and any scraggly tips. Cut on a diagonal about ½ inch thick (or leave tiny carrots whole). In a large skillet on high heat, boil a thin layer (about 1/8 inch) of water and add carrots. Cook until water has evaporated and carrots are slightly soft, about 5 minutes.

Add butter and melt; toss to combine. Add thyme and toss to combine. Add honey and toss to combine; cook until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Season with salt.

Makes about 8 servings

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Winter Solstice Menu

trees release their leaves to prepare for new growth

The Winter Solstice is December 22nd this year.  I don't celebrate Christmas (way too commercial and material for me) but I'm happy for the opportunities to spend time with my family and friends.  Growing up, the English side of my family always had a large Christmas Eve celebration, which is the inspiration for much of this menu.
X-mas Eve when I was very young
The spread back then

Honey Thyme Carrots
Sugarsnap Peas sauteed in Butter with Fresh Mint
Roasted Winter Vegetables
Yorkshire Pudding with Onion Sauce
Sauteed Mushrooms with garlic
Trifle of Ginger Spice Cake, Honey Vanilla Apple Compote, Persimmon Pudding & Maple Whipped Creme Fraiche topped with toasted pecans

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Muffins for Breakfast

This morning we're making blueberry muffins with lemon zest (we like it real lemony so we use the zest of 2 good-sized lemons, which we have a ton of from my mom's friend).  Served with Schaner Farm pomegranate orange juice and scrambled eggs with chives from Suzie's Farm and a beautiful, flaky Murray River salt from Salt Farm that we picked up at the Little Italy farmers market yesterday.

Here's a basic muffin recipe (based on a Joy of Cooking recipe) that you can change seasonally...

1 cup buttermilk (or other dairy - see variations)
2 eggs
2/3 cup rapadura sugar
3 oz melted butter or oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (we make our own)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
1¾ cup fruit (we like to go pretty heavy on the fruit - fresh, frozen, or dried fruit of your choice)

Whisk wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, sugar, butter & vanilla) together.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flours, baking powder & soda, salt).  Mix wet and dry ingredients together until just combined, then briefly stir in fruit or any other ingredients that suit your fancy.  Spoon batter into greased muffin tins and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before popping them out of the pan.  Best when served warm!

Makes 12 standard-sized muffins.

  • Instead of buttermilk, use yogurt or sour cream (or use milk or cream and eliminate the baking soda)
  • Try fresh shredded zucchini, carrot, or winter squash such as pumpkin; fresh chopped apple or persimmon; dried fruit, such as coconut, cherries, figs; or frozen berries.
  • Decrease butter or oil to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup of apple sauce or pumpkin puree
  • Add a handful or 2 of chopped nuts (almonds, Chandler or red walnuts from Terra Bella Farm, pecans, macadamia - they grow locally)
  • Add 1-4 teaspoons of zest (of lemon, lime, Buddha hand, orange, tangerine...) with the wet ingredients
  • Add a teaspoon or so of your favorite spice with the dry ingredients (cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg...)
  • Substitute some of another grain, such as cornmeal
  • Add a handful of oats, hemp seed, ground flax seed, or toasted wheat bran with the dry ingredients

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mushroom Soup

¼ cup olive oil or butter
½ ounce dried wild mushrooms, rehydrated in 2 cups hot water (save the mushroom liquid)
1 pound fresh white, cremini, or portobello mushrooms, chopped (save stems for stock)
2 medium onions or leeks, white & pale green parts, chopped (save dark green parts for stock)
1 large bulb fennel, chopped (leaves and stalks reserved for stock)
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, destemmed, chopped (save stems for stock)
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped (save stems for stock)
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup almond milk
freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, chopped (save stems for stock)

Prep all your ingredients and then use scraps to make your own stock.

Sauté 2 tablespoons butter or oil & mushrooms in a wide pot on medium-high heat until the mushrooms releash their liquid and then start to brown, sticking to the pot.  Add the onion, fennel, 2 tablespoons of oil and cook, stirring until lightly caramelized. Add garlic, thyme & sage and cook a few more minutes. Add the mushroom liquid and stock; bring to a boil and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Add the almond milk; puree (if you want it to be smooth) and season to taste. Garnish each serving with parsley.

Makes about 4 quart

Use celery instead of fennel.
Use cream or milk instead of almond milk.
Add 2 more cups of stock and 1 cup of wild rice, barley, or wheat berries while simmering.
Add a cup of wine after cooking garlic & herbs; simmer until most of the liquid evaporates before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Carrot Ginger Soup

It took me forever to come up with a carrot soup recipe that suited my tastes - the surprising addition of salsa is what finally did it for me.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, coarsely chopped (from Schaner Farm)
2½ teaspoon ginger, fresh, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced (from Schaner Farm)
2 cups carrots, chopped (from J.R. Organics Farm or Suzie's Farm)
¼ cup salsa
3 cups vegetable stock
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Sauté the onion in the oil in a pan on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; cook another 2 minutes. Add carrots and salsa; cook for 1 minute. Add broth, bring to a boil, and simmer covered until carrots are soft, about 20 minutes. Puree and season to taste.

Garnish with crema, sour cream, cilantro, onions sprouts or microgreens

Serves 4-6

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yuletide Wassail or Hot Mulled Cider

So, hot cider is not what wassail was originally, but it's the version we know today.  My mom made it every winter for every holiday event we ever attended, when caroling, or whenever she wanted to evoke a holiday mood.  It was her thing.  Here's my version of her recipe:

1 whole cardamom pod
½ teaspoon whole cloves
1 stick mexican cinnamon
4 thin slices fresh ginger
juice of an orange (or 2) off one of the many local trees heavy with fruit
1 quart fresh apple cider or juice (Smit Orchards is the best I've found)

Lightly crush whole spices.  Gently simmer all ingredients for about 20 minutes (longer for a spicier cider) in a pot on the stove or a crockpot.   Serve piping hot and while a-wassailing!

Makes about 4½ cups

Use other citrus instead of an orange
Add cherry or pear juice
And other spices, such as star anise

Apple Praline Pie

Okay, so the tarte tatin didn't quite work out how I wanted it to this year;  I've still got a single pie crust I made; I picked up some more Granny Smith and Fuji apples yesterday morning from Smit Orchards at the Hillcrest farmers market; I love apple crisp more than pie; so here's what I'm gonna do:

Roll out & form my a pie crust

10 apples, peeled, cored
1&1/2 tablespoons rapadura sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice from 1/2 a lemon

Cut apples in half and sliced about ¼" thick. Toss with sugar, cinnamon & lemon juice. Mound in the unbaked pie crust.

2/3 cup rapadura sugar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons walnut oil
2/3 cup flour
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup pecans, chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix topping ingredients together until crumbly and cover the top of the pie.

Place pie on a baking sheet and bake at 375º until golden and bubbly, about 60 minutes.

Serve with the leftover maple whipped Spring Hill sour cream.

Use other fruit seasonally: pears, berries, stone fruit...

Pie Crust

This is not my favorite task...

Pie Crust (based on Martha's Pate Brisee)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon evaporated cane sugar
4 oz butter (from Spring Hill), cold, cut into 1/2" cubes
2-3 tablespoons ice water

In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and using your fingers, quickly mix the dough, smashing the butter into smaller and smaller pieces with your finger tips until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  You still want to be able to see little pieces of butter and you don't want the heat of your fingers to melt the butter so don't over do it.  (Alternatively, you can process for a few seconds in the food processor but I like to use my hands.)

Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and combine just enough so the dough holds together without being wet or sticky.  If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time.  Form a ball, wrap in plastic and flatten into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month. To make a pie shell, allow to come to room temp, then roll out about 1/8" thick and big enough to line your pie plate.  Line your pie plate to form your crust, cutting or crimping the top edge (any extra dough scraps can be topped with cinnamon and sugar and baked on a baking sheet for a little sweet treat) .  If pre-baking, poke bottom with a fork a few times or put foil and a handful of dried beans over the bottom of the pie crust when baking.

This is enough for a single pie shell.  Double this recipe if you want crust on top of the pie as well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Make Your Own Mayo

Be not afraid - this is very easy.  The only problem is it makes about a cup and it only lasts a day or two.  So make it when you know it will be consumed (like for potato salad or lots of people having sandwiches).  If you want to make less you could look for smaller eggs and decrease the rest of the ingredients; sometimes the Schaners have little guinea fowl eggs.  Or if you want to make a big batch, sometimes they have larger turkey eggs.

You are using a raw egg - again, be not afraid. Do you know where your local eggs come from?  Do you keep them in the refrigerator once you get them home? Do you use them up and get fresh ones often? Are you immunocompromised? (yes, yes, yes, no) Good, then you have nothing to fear.

1 egg from your backyard or favorite farmer
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice from a local tree heavy with fruit
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 cup oil (more or less, depending on the size of the egg)
½ teaspoon sea salt
pinch cayenne pepper

In a food processor or blender, combine the egg, lemon juice and Dijon mustard. Process on high speed for 15 seconds. With the motor running, pour the oil in a slow, steady stream and process until emulsified. Watch while you're adding the oil: once it's real thick, (it will be harder to incorporate more oil and you don't want to over blend) and the oil just starts to pool on top, STOP.  Add the salt and cayenne, and pulse briefly to blend.

Makes a bit more than a cup will keep for about 24 hours.

I never liked mayo until I made it myself.  This is sooo much better than the shelf-stable stuff.

Try making with olive oil or half olive oil
Use different types of mustard
Use lime instead of lemon
Stir in chopped fresh herbs
Stir in other spices (black pepper, saffron...)
Make Aoli (garlic mayo): add 2-3 cloves of garlic to the blender first; blend well and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Kitchen Tip: How to Crack an Egg
Crack the egg gently (not too soft, not too hard) on a flat surface (e.g. your counter top), not the lip of your bowl.  This way, the egg shells don't go into the egg white and you shouldn't get any shell in your recipe.  Crack eggs one at a time into a separate small bowl before adding them to your recipe.  Then, if you do happen to break little pieces of shell into your egg, they are easily removed.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Breakfast this morning:
poached Schaner eggs with hiwa kai salt from Salt Farm & freshly ground pepper
homemade rolls with Spring Hill butter & local honey

Lunch today:
delicious sandwich of homemade mayo, arugula persimmon salad, cranberry compote & stuffing on multigrain sprouted bread (might sound strange but it was awesome)
Smit Orchard's apple cider with Schaner pomegranate seeds

straight-up leftovers - stuffing, smashed potatoes, broccoli, cheese sauce, mushroom gravy, twice (well, now thrice) baked sweet potatoes followed by pie

Sauce Bechamel (White Sauce), Mornay (Cheese Sauce) & Soubise (Onion Sauce)

Sauce bechamel is a very basic French white sauce that works well as a "mother" recipe for lots of different things and variations: in gratins, lasagnas, and other casseroles, over steamed veggies, mashed potatoes or Yorkshire Pudding.  This is based on the very standard Joy of Cooking recipe.

1&1/4 cups milk
1/4 onion
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
sea salt
freshly ground white or black pepper

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, onion & bay leaf on low heat, uncovered for 15 minutes.  Remove and compost the onion & bay leaf and set milk aside.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter on medium low heat, add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until golden brown.  Slowing whisk in the warm milk until well incorporated (no lumps).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Makes about 1&1/2 cups

After it thickens:
  • stir in 1/4 cup grated cheese blend from Taste or smoked cheddar from Spring Hill
  • add a tablespoon fresh minced herbs (chives, parsley...)
As the first step, saute an onion or a couple shallots (sliced very thin, sauteed until soft); then proceed with the recipe as written.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Pumpkin Praline Pie with a Ginger Cookie Crust

    I'm still searching for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe.  Last year, I used the recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts, which was quite good but not perfect.  Here's my attempt this year (very unconventional and a bit more complex):

    about 9 ginger molasses crisps
    5 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons rapadura sugar

    Grind the cookies in a food processor to a fine crumb and measure 1&1/2 cups.  Melt the butter and stir in the crumbs and sugar.  Press firmly in the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate.

    2-3 small pie pumpkins
    1/2 cup rapadura sugar
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    a pinch of ground nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1 cup heavy cream
    seeds from 1/2 a vanilla bean
    3 eggs, beaten

    Cut pumpkins in half, deseed, and bake, cut side down, for minutes at 400, until soft when pierced. When cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and add 2 cups to a food processor.  Puree with rapadura, spices and salt.  In a small pot, cook puree at low heat to evaporate off some moisture, stirring in the cream.  Remove from heat, allow to cool a bit and whisk in the vanilla and eggs quickly.

    Pour the hot filling into the crust and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until the top of the pie just starts to crack.

    1 cup pecans, chopped
    1/2 cup rapadura sugar
    pinch sea salt
    2 teaspoons maple syrup
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    While the pie is baking, mix together the topping ingredients (except for the sugar). When the pie just starts to crack, top with the topping mixture, sprinkle the sugar over the top, and bake for another 10 minutes.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Peter Schaner's Autumn Salad

    I wasn't planning on a salad but that's one for the wonderful things about seasonal, local cooking.  My spouse's mom is bringing arugula from her garden and one of my very favorite farmers, Peter Schaner, said "Here, use these in your thanksgiving salad" as he handed me a couple of persimmons, a pomegranate, and a lime.  And I'm quite happy to oblige!
    homegrown arugula or your favorite greens
    persimmon, cut in half and sliced thin
    pomegranate seeds
    vinaigrette of lime juice, olive oil, sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

    When I make a vinaigrette, I usually make it one part vinegar or citrus juice and 2-3 parts oil.

    Kitchen Tip
    One trick to getting the seeds out of the pomegranate is to score the outside with a knife and peel it apart underwater and loosen the seeds in a bowl of water.  The seeds sink and the skin and pith float.

    I love salad but I find at any event, most folks don't eat salad, so make way less than you think you'll need.

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Winter Squash Lasagna

    I had a lot of Suzie's Farm squash around and picked up some lovely ricotta from Taste Cheese for tonight's dinner inspiration...

    3 small-medium-sized winter squash (butternut, kabocha, honeybear acorn, delicata...)
    olive oil
    1 small onion, sliced
    1/2 bulb garlic cloves, peeled
    1 egg
    2 cup ricotta
    2 tablespoons fresh parsley, destemmed, minced
    1 teaspoon fresh thyme, destemmed, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh sage, destemmed, minced
    1 package lasagna noodles
    1 cup white wine or broth
    1/2 pound mozzarella, grated
    Parmesan, grated, optional

    Cut squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Slice half the squash (varieties with edible skin: kabocha, delicata) in 1/2" slices.  Lightly oil all the squash and roast in oven at 400 until halves and soft and slices are caramelized.  Add the garlic and onion to the sliced squash and remove when cooked.  Set the sliced squash, garlic and onion aside.  When the halved squash is cool enough to handle, scrape out flesh and puree until smooth in a food processor with wine or broth; salt and pepper to taste.

    In a separate bowl, beat egg and stir in ricotta, herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

    Boil noodles in salted water until a little soft but still undercooked, about 4 minutes.

    In a 13x9" baking pan, coat bottom in a light layer of squash puree, then a layer of noodles, a light layer of ricotta mix, then a layer of roasted squash, garlic and onion.  Repeat until pan is full, ending with a layer of noodles. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan and bake at 350 until golden and bubbly, about 40 minutes.

    Serve on a bed of arugula and drizzle with a balsamic reduction.

    Serves 8-12

    Add sauteed mushrooms in with the roasted veggies.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Ginger Molasses Crisps (aka iron cookies)

    3/4 cup butter
    1 cup rapadura sugar
    1 egg
    1/3 cup molasses
    2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 cup minced candied ginger, optional
    big-crystaled sugar for rolling, optional

    Cream butter, sugar, egg & molasses together.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Stir in candied ginger if you like.  Shape into 1" balls and roll them in the sugar.  Flatten them out a bit on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 350°.

    Make about 3 dozen cookies.

    Make your own Mustard

    I've only made mustard once and I was very encouraged by the results! The recipe I started with came from a great food blog: Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.  I like a mostly whole grain, mildly hot, intensely flavored mustard.  I originally made the recipe with cold liquid (cuz I wanted to see how spicy it would be) and it turned out much too spicy for me.  Also, I thought the recipe was too dry (so dry it was difficult to spread) so here is my adjusted recipe for next time:

    3 tablespoons black or brown mustard seeds
    2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
    3 tablespoons mustard powder
    1/2 cup warm white wine, water, juice, or beer
    3 tablespoons vinegar (cider, white wine, or sherry)
    2 teaspoons salt
    Grind the whole mustard seeds for a few seconds in a spice or coffee grinder, or in a mortar and pestle, leaving them mostly whole.  Pour the semi-ground seeds into a bowl and add the salt and mustard powder.  Stir in the warm liquid and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar until well combined. Pour into a glass jar with a lid and store in the fridge. Wait at least 12 hours before using. It will last several months in the fridge.

    Makes about 1 cup.


    With the salt & mustard powder, stir in additional flavors of you choice:
    • 2 tablespoons honey 
    • 1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
    • 1 tablespoon minced onion or shallot 
    • 1 teaspoon minced hot chili
    • 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (I like parsley, chive, and/or thyme) 
    • a pinch to a teaspoon of dried herbs or spices: cayenne, red pepper flakes, dill, 
    Or mix up the types of vinegar (or try lemon juice) or the type of liquid used (remember, cold liquid makes the spiciest mustard; warm for medium spice; hot liquid for mild).

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Pancakes Made Healthier & Tastier

    Personally, pancakes are one of my favorite breakfasts, especially for special occasions or guests. But I want them to be healthy and wholesome, not refined and processed. Fortunately, this is easy to accomplish… One simple change to a basic pancake recipe is using whole wheat pastry flour (or other whole grain flour) instead of all-purpose. Any basic “mother” recipe (traditional, vegan, wheat-free…) you might start with, you can make all sorts of variations, depending on what’s in season and what’s in your pantry that morning.

    Try one or more of these additions sprinkled into the batter:
    • spices (cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla…) 
    • citrus zest (lemon, orange, Buddha hand…) 
    • whole grains and seeds (oats, toasted wheat germ, quinoa flakes, raw hemp seeds, chia seeds…) 
    • fresh seasonal or dried fruit (sliced strawberries or bananas, dried blueberries or shredded coconut…) 
    • chocolate chips, carob chips, cocoa nibs 
    • nuts (sliced almonds or macadamia, walnut or pecan pieces…) 
    And for toppings:
    • fresh seasonal fruit or fruit compote (sautéed peaches or nectarines, apple pear compote...) 
    • spreads (nut butters or chocolate hazelnut or jams or lemon curd…) 
    • maple syrup or honey 
    • whipped cream or coconut crème 
    One of my very favorite combos is to add several healthy spoonfuls of grains and seeds to the batter and top with lemon curd and fresh blueberries. Or try pancakes for dessert: chocolate chips & vanilla in the batter, topped with sliced strawberries & whipped cream!

    Start playing with your favorite pancake recipe or try mine:

    1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
    3 tablespoons rapadura sugar
    1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
    ½ teaspoon sea salt
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 to 1 1/4 cup milk, apple juice, yogurt, buttermilk or sour milk
    3 tablespoons oil or melted butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. In a measuring cup, beat the eggs; then mix in the other wet ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Stir in any additions (spices, grains, seeds, fruit...) and pour out a few tablespoons of batter on a lightly oiled or buttered hot griddle or skillet on medium-low heat. Cook for a few minutes and when you see bubbles appear and the edges look a little dry, flip the pancakes gently with a spatula. Cook a few more minutes until golden brown on each side.

    Serves 4-6.  Spare pancakes can be frozen and saved for a quick breakfast later.

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    Wild Mushroom Gravy

    This is a great addition to the holiday table for vegetarians or meat-eaters. A rich, thick gravy that is excellent on garlic smashed potatoes or Yorkshire pudding.

    1 stick butter
    ¼ pound white mushrooms, chopped
    ¼ pound crimini mushrooms, chopped
    1 ounce dried wild mushrooms
    3 large shallots, minced
    1/3 cup flour
    1 cup red wine
    ¼ cup cream
    sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

    Rehydrate the dried mushrooms in 3 cups of hot water until soft. Reserve the liquid and chop the mushrooms.

    Melt ½ stick butter in a large sauté pan. Add mushrooms and shallot; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the liquid is cooked off and the mushrooms brown.

    Add and melt ½ stick butter; over low hear, stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cream, then mushroom liquid, then wine; simmer 6-8 minutes until thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Puree if you’d like it to be smooth.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Thanksgiving To Do List - One Week Away

    So, here's what I've accomplished on my checklist so far:

    • I've sent the Evite (25 guests and counting...)
    • I've created a menu & food shopping list (some will be foraged, most from the farmers markets and the rest from the OB Peoples Co-op)
    • I've pickled my vegetables for apps
    • I've got beds & linen for family flying in
    • I've got all the kitchen equipment I need
    • I'm borrowing tables, chairs, silverware, plates, and glasses
    • I've bought all non-perishables & stuff from Peoples

    Here's what I'll do this weekend:

    2 days before:

    • Make gingerale, if I get ahold of my friends recipe (otherwise, I think I'll get some elderberry syrup and serve with sparkling water)
    • Continue to clean the house...
    • Prepare the serving pieces, plates, flatware, glasses, etc. 
    • Iron cloth napkins or tablecloths (ya, right; sure I will)

    Day Before:

    • Endless cleaning of the house! 
    • Cut and cube bread for stuffing
    • Make pies & tarte dough
    • Peel & cut the Yukon potatoes, then refrigerate them in a pot of cold water
    • Assemble ingredients for side dishes 
    • Set up tables and chairs

    Thanksgiving Day:

    Fortunately, I have several friends and family coming early to help with all the preparations for the meal.  I've encouraged folks to come whenever they like, bring an appetizer or their favorite holiday dish if they wish to bring something to share.  We'll keep nibbles out and drinks flowing throughout the day...

    9am     Start rolls; Seed pomegranates; 

                Squeeze oj & slice melon for breakfast

    10am   Roast garlic; Start sweet potatoes; chop broccoli

    11am   Start tarte tatin; chop carrots & parsnip

    12pm   Form rolls; 
                Chop onion, celery, apples & herbs for stuffing; 
                Prep mushrooms & shallots for gravy

    1pm     Finish stuffing and bake; 
                Prep Brussels sprouts; Make salad
    2pm     Boil mashed potatoes; Boil parsnips & carrots; 
                Make sauce mornay; Make gravy;             

                Sweet potatoes in oven; 
                Steam broccoli; Roast the Brussel sprouts;            
                Finish and garnish all dishes (except rolls)
    3pm     Serve dinner; Rolls in oven            
                Give thanks & enjoy the bounty!
    5pm     Make coffee; Whip cream; Serve dessert
                Make music & have fun! 

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Grandma Roberts' Rolls

    Soft and tender, I love to make these rolls and remember my spouse’s very sweet grandmother, who made these rolls every holiday with her family.

    1 cup scalded milk (this means heat just to a boil and remove from heat)
    ¼ cup evaporated cane sugar
    ¼ cup butter
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1 tablespoon active dry yeast
    2 eggs
    1 cup unbleached white flour
    2½ cups whole wheat flour

    Add yeast to ¼ cup of warm water and let proof for 10 minutes.

    In a separate, large bowl, mix milk, sugar, butter, and salt. Let cool until it is lukewarm (otherwise, you'll kill the yeast).

    To the mixture, add the yeast, eggs, and flour. Beat until smooth.  Cover with a warm, slightly damp towel. Let it rise for 2 hours.

    This next part can be a bit tricky until you get the hang of it: roll out ropes of the dough on a well floured surface; form and cut into individual knots (forming the roll). The dough will be sticky, so don’t be shy with the flour. Place rolls on parchment paper on baking sheets. Let it rise for 2 more hours.

    Bake at 425º for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. We don't bake the rolls until the rest of dinner is served because these are best right out of the oven!

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Roasted Vegetables

    This is my favorite way to prepare many vegetables:

    Pick one or a mix of a few types, being mindful that different veggies may have different cook times -

    Snap tough ends off asparagus or green beans.
    Cut large Brussels sprouts in half.
    Cut large veggies into bite sized pieces, such as fingerling potatoes from Sage Mountain Farm, carrots, parsnip, rutabaga, turnip, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, squash, bell peppers, onion...

    Drizzle lightly with olive oil, season with sea salt & freshly ground pepper, and toss to coat. Roast on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan at 400° until well cooked, stirring occasionally.  Asparagus cooks fast (10 minutes or less), root veggies and winter squash can take awhile (45 minutes or so)…

    Add additional flavors after roasting-
    • drizzle with balsamic vinegar or port reduction
    • toss with your favorite vinaigrette, fresh herbs, and/or mustard
    • add a squeeze of lemon
    • top with shaved Parmesan ribbons or citrus zest

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

    A savory alternative to candied yams. For this recipe, choose sweet potatoes that are small, round and about the same size

    6 small sweet potatoes (I like garnet), scrubbed well, poked with fork several times
    6 tablespoons butter from Spring Hill
    4 small shallots, minced from Schaner Farm
    2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced, plus more for garnish from Suzie's Farm or Schaner Farm
    ¼ cup rapadura sugar
    2 large eggs from backyard chickens or the Schaner's
    ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
    4 ounce gruyere cheese, finely grated, plus more for garnish
    sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

    Bake sweet potatoes at 400° until tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle. Slice each potato in half lengthwise. scoop out flesh, leaving about a 1/8-inch border all around potato halves and set aside.

    Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 2 minutes. Add rosemary and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat, add 4 tablespoons butter and set aside.

    Place flesh in a bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Add shallot mixture and remaining ingredients. Mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Spoon mixture into potato halves. Top with extra gruyere. Bake at 400º until golden, about 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh rosemary.

    Makes 12 servings

    Garlic Smashed Potatoes

    This is a simple recipe but mashed potatoes are a staple for my holiday table. For more rustic mashed potatoes leave the peel on.

    4 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled or well scrubbed, cut into 1” pieces
    ½ stick butter
    ½ cup milk
    sea salt
    freshly ground pepper
    2 bulbs of roasted garlic

    In a large pot, cover potatoes with water (this can be done the day before and stored in the fridge overnight). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until soft, about 15 minutes.

    After draining away the water, add butter, milk, salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze in garlic cloves. Mash with a potato masher, ricer, or whip gently with an electric mixer.

    Makes 8-10 servings 

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Holiday Stuffing

    Based on my Aunt Pat’s stuffing, this vegetarian stuffing is so good, I never miss the bird!

    2 tablespoon olive oil
    1 yellow onion, diced
    fresh chopped herbs:
      1/4 cup parsley
      2 tablespoons sage
      1 tablespoon rosemary
      2 tablespoons thyme
    1 cup celery, diced
    6 large garlic cloves, minced
    6 cups multigrain (or other locally baked) bread, cut into ¾” cubes
    2 cups apple juice
    ½ bottle white wine (or more juice)
    1 cup pecans, chopped
    1 cup fresh cranberries (or ½ cup dried)
    1 cup golden raisins
    1 large green apple, diced
    sea salt
    fresh ground black pepper

    Warm the oil over medium heat. Add onion, sage, thyme & rosemary and cook until the onions just begin to soften. Add garlic and celery and cook a couple more minutes.

    Combine all ingredients - except wine and juice – and place the mixture in a large baking dish. Moisten by adding about a third of the wine and juice. Cover and bake at 350° for about an hour, periodically adding the rest of the wine and juice to keep it moist.

    serves 8-10

    Thanksgiving Quinoa

    This recipe is based on what I usually make as a Thanksgiving stuffing, and would be a great stuffing for those avoiding wheat.

    4 cups quinoa, well rinsed
    4 cups water
    sea salt
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 yellow onion, diced
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced
    1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
    1/4 cup garlic, minced
    1 cup white wine
    1 large crisp & tart apple, peeled and diced
    1 cup fresh cranberries
    1 cup pecan, roasted & chopped
    1 cup golden raisins
    2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
    4 cups apple juice
    black pepper

    In a large pot, bring the water, quinoa, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook until water is absorbed (about 10 minutes).  In a wide-bottom pot or large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat.  Saute onion until soft. Add thyme, sage, rosemary & garlic and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the wine, turn off heat and allow to steam, uncovered. Add all ingredients to the cooked quinoa, and cook, stirring until liquid is absorbed.  Salt & pepper to taste.

    Serves 8-12

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Pickled Vegetables

    Suzie's Farm and Schaner Farm had some lovely vegetables today at the Little Italy Farmers Market so I'm pickling them. This method is not meant to be shelf stable and should be stored in the refrigerator. Each of these recipes makes a 1 pint jar:

    Pickled Cucs
    about 8 spiny little cucumbers, quartered
    4 yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
    1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 teaspoon dill
    1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Pickled Beets
    6 small beets, peeled & cut into sixth
    1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
    4 sprigs fresh parsley
    a pinch of black mustard seeds
    1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Pickled Peppers
    6 assorted sweet peppers, cut into 1/2" strips
    whole garlic cloves
    1/2 teaspoon basil
    1/2 teaspoon oregano
    a pinch of red pepper flakes
    1/2 cup red wine vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Pickled Thyme Carrots
    3 bunches whole small carrots
    8 sprigs fresh thyme
    1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    1/2 cup red wine vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons honey
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Pickled Indian Carrots
    3 bunches whole small carrots
    1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
    1 sprigs fresh cilantro
    a goodly pinch of saffron
    1/4 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
    1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
    1/2 cup coconut vinegar
    1/2 cup water
    2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar
    1 tablespoon sea salt

    Stuff the herbs, veggies & spices in a pint-sized jar.  In a small sauce pan, bring the water, vinegar, salt & sweetener to a boil.  Pour into jar to the top.  Screw the lid on tight and allow to cool.  Store in the refrigerator for a couple days before eating.

    Thanksgiving Menu and Preparations

    Thanksgiving is my favorite meal to cook. I do not celebrate its beginnings, but I give true thanks for all that I have to be grateful for. I love to share my thanks through mindful and loving preparation of very special recipes. Over the years, my menu has changed a bit, with my adaptations of coveted family favorites and new additions as my sense of family has expanded.

    This year's menu is pretty ambitious, with even more items from scratch, some required to be made several weeks in advance (my spouse has been saving a few bottles of his latest beer). Some friends of ours shared fruited gingerales they made recently that I want to attempt to recreate...

    homemade pickled vegetables

    homemade grapefruit gingerale
    homebrewed Mad Stork black IPA & assorted local beers
    family-made wines

    cranberry compote
    yin yang smashed garlic potatoes & carrots with parsnips
    wild mushroom gravy
    twice baked sweet potatoes
    balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts with homemade mustard
    broccoli with sauce mornay
    Grandma Roberts’ rolls

    fair trade organic decaf coffee
    apple tarte tatin
    pumpkin praline pie in a ginger cookie crust
    whipped maple sour cream

    So that's the plan so far.  I'll be posting these holiday recipes and various preparations during the next week or so.

    This weekend: taking stock of what we have and what we need to accommodate the 30 folks that we'll share a meal with.

    beautiful turkey at City Farmers
    Happy Cooking!

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Roasted Garlic

    So many uses for wonderfully delicious roasted garlic.  Lately we've been eating it spread on Bread & Cie ciabatta with Nicolau Farms classic chevre and some local honey.  Schaner Farm and Sage Mountain Farm both have awesome garlic.

    whole bulbs of garlic
    olive oil
    sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper

    Chop the tops off the bulbs, leaving them intact but exposing the cloves. Set them on foil (which can be reused). Drizzle oil over the bulbs and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap up the foil to enclose. Bake at 425º until cloves are caramelized and very soft, about an hour.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Cranberry Compote

    Great on stuffing, rolls, baked brie, sandwiches and all your favorite holiday foods.  This recipe is based on Julia Child's cranberry sauce.  And I think I'm going to can it this year for Winter Solstice gifts...

    1 large granny smith apple, peeled, diced
    1 large orange, zested, peeled, seeds removed, diced (or a cup of kumquats or tangerines, leave skin on)
    1 cup orange juice or apple cider
    3 cups fresh cranberries
    1 tablespoon cider vinegar or lemon juice
    ½ cup maple syrup or honey
    ¼ teaspoon sea salt
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne, ground, more or less to taste

    Pour juice and cranberries into large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, including orange zest and peel. Cover pan and bring to boil over high heat. Stir, reduce heat to medium, and cook covered for 5 minutes, until all cranberries burst. Uncover, reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes, until thick. Remove orange peel. Cool to serve at room temp. Can be kept frozen for several weeks.

    Makes about 3 cups

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Calabacitas - Una Receta de Mi Familia

    Growing up, my nana made this for me and her abuelita, Narcissa, made it for her.  It's still one of my very favorite meals.  I feel a strong tie to my maternal line, especially to Narcissa, whom I never met but I feel her presence.  She was a farmer, a healer, a spiritual women deeply connected to nature.  I have a lot to learn from her...

    Que piensas de estar en el web, tartarabuelita?

    2 tablespoons oil
    1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
    2-3 summer squash, quartered and thinly sliced
    5 garlic cloves, minced
    1 pound heirloom tomato, chopped
    3 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob
    1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
    sea salt
    1/3 pound jack cheese, shredded, optional

    Add the oil to a large skillet on medium-high heat, allowing it to heat up for a few minutes.  Add the onions and cook until soft, stirring frequently.  Add the squash and garlic; cook until just soft, a few minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, corn and cilantro and salt to taste.  Top with cheese, cover and turn off heat.  Keep covered until cheese has melted.

    Serves 4-6

    Serve with tortillas and beans or use it as a filling for tacos, burritos or enchiladas.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    I like oatmeal?

    Many of the foods I thought I didn't like (for example, sun-dried tomatoes), I have found I do like them once I try them from the farmers market, made from scratch, not full of chemicals and/or refined unto death.  We have forgotten what food tastes like and we've allowed ourselves to be convinced by trillions of dollars in advertising that the latest concoction in a brightly colored package is something we should put in our bodies for nourishment.

    I never liked "oatmeal" (I use the term loosely here) before last week because I never ate real oatmeal until last week.  Oatmeal is easy, fast, hearty, wholesome, warm ...and you can add so many different things to it to suit your tastes.

    1&1/3 cup water
    2/3 cup oats
    pinch of sea salt

    Stir ingredients together in a small pot, heat to a boil, bring the heat down to a simmer, cover and cook about 5 minutes. Done!  Enough for you and a loved one.

    Try other grains (cook times & amount of water will vary): barley or quinoa flakes, millet...
    Sweeten it up: honey, maple syrup, rapadura, jam...
    Spice it up: cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, chai...
    Add chopped nuts or seeds: almonds, pecans, walnuts, chia, hemp...
    Thin it out with more water, milk, cream, buttermilk, hemp milk, apple juice, fruit puree, winter squash puree, kefir...
    Add fresh seasonal fruit (right now, chopped apples or persimmon)
    Add dried fruit: blueberries, coconut, peach, cherries...

    Flavor Combos to Try
    apple + cinnamon + milk + almonds + rapadura sugar
    berries + coconut milk + chia + honey
    pumpkin puree + cranberry + pie spices + pecans + maple syrup

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Winter Root Vegetable Stew with Cobbler Dumplings

    If the weather forecast can be believed, we've got some cold days and colder nights headed our way, which makes me think of making this recipe. It's Thursday so I'm headed to the North Park farmers market to hit up Suzie's Farm, J.R. Organics, Smit's, and Spring Hill Cheese.

    2 tablespoons oil (I like olive) or butter
    2 cups (about ½ pound) leeks (or onions), julienned
    1 fennel bulb, chopped (about 1½ cups)
    3 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
    ¼ pound fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped (I like cremini)
    1 ½ pounds (3-4 cups) root vegetables, chopped (I like Yukon potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and maybe a turnip or rutabaga)
    4-5 cups vegetable stock
    1 tsp fresh parsley, stemmed & minced
    1 tsp fresh thyme, stemmed & minced
    sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

    1. Prep the veggies: trim dark green parts (keep for stock) from the leeks, score leeks lengthwise, then cut the leeks into pieces about 1 inch in length; wash thoroughly and drain. Chop fennel & veggies into about ¼-½ inch cubes (keep roots end, fennel fronds and stalks for stock). Roughly chop mushrooms (save stems for stock).

    2. Make the stock.
    1 small onion, peeled and chopped
    2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
    1 carrot, chopped
    any vegetable scraps
    1 bay leaf
    3 fresh sage leaves
    2 springs fresh parsley
    2 springs fresh thyme

    In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil on high heat, add the onion, garlic, carrot, and vegetable scraps (tops, peels, stems, ugly or tough parts. Nothing rotten or dirty. No onion skin, garlic skin, nor stinky veggies such as turnips or rutabagas), stirring occasionally until you see some caramelization. Cover completely with water, about 6 cups, add herbs and bring to a boil, add ½ tsp sea salt and simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain out the vegetable pieces.

    3. Make the cobbler dough:
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    ½ tsp sea salt
    8 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces (6 if you add cheese)
    1 cup milk
    ½ cup grated cheese (cheddar, gruyere, parmesan…), optional
    1 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped (chives, parsley, thyme, sage…)

    In a medium bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, and salt.  Work the butter into the flour mixture with your finger tips, until the texture is crumbly.  Stir in the milk until well combined, then mix in the cheese and herbs.  Set aside.

    4. Make the stew: in a deep, wide skillet, melt butter or heat oil on high, add leeks, fennel, mushroom, thyme, and garlic, stirring frequently, and cook until the mushrooms give up their liquid and start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped winter veggies; cover completely with stock and season with a bit of salt. Bring to a boil and stir in the parsley.  Drop large spoonfuls of the cobbler dough on top of the stew; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt & pepper after portioning stew and cobbler into bowls for serving.

    Serves 6


    • Instead of or in addition to roots, use other vegetables as the season provides: winter or summer squash, Brussels sprouts, sugar snap peas...
    • Make a gluten-free version by eliminating the cobbler topping or adapt this recipe for shepard's pie